CHICAGO (CBS) — Despite being in the midst of funeral arrangements for his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush planned to deliver the keynote address Wednesday at a forum in Oak Brook.
Barbara Bush, 92, died Tuesday night after deciding not to undergo further medical treatments for her deteriorating health. She had been suffering congestive heart failure. Her funeral has been scheduled for Saturday.READ MORE: Chicago Police Issue Alert Of Armed Robberies In Lincoln Park And Lake View
“I’m exceptionally privileged to be the son of George Bush and the exceptionally gracious, gregarious, fun, funny, loving, tough, smart, graceful woman who was the force of nature known as Barbara Bush,” Jeb Bush said of his mother’s passing in a Facebook post.
Jeb Bush had been scheduled to speak at the Elmhurst College Governmental Forum in Oak Brook on Wednesday, and after his mother died, he told organizers she would have wanted him to honor his commitment, despite his grief.
On Wednesday, the Hilton in Oak Brook flew its American flag at half staff in honor of Mrs. Bush. The conference center is hosting the forum, where nearly 1,000 people gathered to hear Jeb Bush speak at the sold-out event.
“We’ve been getting calls and emails for the last few days, ever since we heard about the first lady’s condition, and so the whole time we’ve been saying we’ll leave it up to him, of course. Then when we got the news last night, we contacted him to see what he wanted to do, and he wanted to come,” Elmhurst College spokeswoman Desiree Chen said.
Jeb Bush is expected to talk about his mother at the beginning of his speech. He’ll leave as soon as the forum is over, likely to fly back to the Bush family home in Texas.
Barbara Bush’s history in Illinois stretches back decades. She campaigned here for her husband, George H.W. Bush, when he first ran for office in 1988.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Heavy Rain, Possible Flood Watch
In 1989, thousands came to hear the first lady speak on the need to fight illiteracy at a United Way conference in Chicago. Former Gov. Jim Edgar was among those who heard her speak.
“I don’t know of anyone that I had a greater deal of respect or enjoyed being around more than Barbara Bush,” Edgar said.
Among her stops in the Chicago area in 1992, Mrs. Bush displayed her usual charm and humor at a senior center in Bloomingdale, talking about her husband’s dislike of broccoli.
“I think he had it just once too much on the campaign trail,” she said.
Mrs. Bush also read to students at an Elgin YWCA, during a 1991 visit supporting her foundation for family literacy.
George H.W. Bush was at his wife’s side when she died and had held her hand all day Tuesday, according to Jean Becker, chief of staff at the former president’s office in Houston.
Their son, former President George W. Bush, said his family’s “souls are settled because we know hers was.”
“Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions,” he said. “To us, she was so much more.”MORE NEWS: Ed's Tech Notes: Walgreens New Drone Delivery, Amazon New Pay Option, Facebook Rumored Rebrand
Mrs. Bush was one of only two women who were both wives and mothers of U.S. presidents. The other was Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams.